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Performance Characterization of a 200 W Laboratory Hall Thruster
Western Michigan University undergraduates designed and fabricated a 200W Hall effect thruster for laboratory research and experimentation in fulfillment of a capstone project. The Western Hall Thruster (WHT) was designed to be an accessible electric propulsion device that can be designed, built, and tested by universities with minimum resources. Characterization of the WHT performance was obtained to understand operational and oscillatory behaviors. Thruster discharge voltage, anode flowrate, and magnet current were parametrically swept while continuously collecting telemetry measurements. Optical spectroscopy and Faraday probe sweeps were used to analyze thruster operation and the plasma plume during a variety of operating conditions. Optical emission spectroscopy measures light emission intensity as a function of wavelength, which can be used to identify plasma density and electron temperature. The telemetry data indicate quiescent operating modes at higher flowrates as well as noteworthy instabilities under other conditions. The optical emission and probe data provide insight into near-field plasma temperature, density, and divergence. These findings will be important for future high-speed probe measurements and future Hall thruster design revisions.